With players taking the day off, the Miami Dolphins released their first depth chart Monday in advance of Friday's preseason opener against the Atlanta Falcons. The depth chart is far from set in stone, but it does confirm that the team is mostly satisfied with the personnel it trotted out in 2010, since so many returnees are back at their old spots.
On the offensive side, there are no major surprises. In the backfield, QB Chad Henne is joined by free agent acquisition Reggie Bush. While it is no longer a shock to see Henne listed on the first team, his status with the team was so uncertain two weeks ago that it still qualifies as a minor miracle he is starting for the Dolphins.
Bush's starting role is more unexpected, seeing as he has averaged over 10 attempts a game twice in his five-year career (and never more than 13.1 carries a game).
Rookie Daniel Thomas is the second team running back behind Bush, while Lousaka Polite will once again start at fullback.
Vernon Carey has moved to RG to make room for newly acquired Marc Colombo, as reported last week. All-Pro LT Jake Long was moved to the Physically Unable to Perform list at the beginning of camp, so Lydon Murtha is keeping his seat warm at LT for the preseason.
LG Richie Incognito and rookie C Mike Pouncey make up the remainder of the offensive line. Brandon Marshall and Brian Hartline are listed as the starting receivers, with Davone Bess and Clyde Gates (he no longer goes by Edmond) on the second team.
The defensive side sees even less turnover than the offense, as 10 of 11 starters return. The one exception is ILB Kevin Burnett, replacing the departed Channing Crowder. He has big shoes to fill if he wants to jump on top of piles at the end of plays with the elan of the outspoken Crowder.
Jason Taylor will make his third go as a Dolphin backing up strong-side linebacker Koa Misi. He is expected to line up opposite weak-side LB Cameron Wake on passing downs to give the team a formidable double-headed sack threat.
The defensive backfield is the one area most likely to see some changes before the season opens next month. CB Sean Smith will have to hold off veteran Will Allen, who started ahead of Smith for part of last season. And head coach Tony Sparano told NFL.com that FS Chris Clemons is getting some competition from backup Reshad Jones.
The Dolphins will open the preseason at Atlanta on Friday at 7:30 p.m..